Happy Birthday to America—one of my first true loves

Independence Day

It’s no secret that I’m a passionate lover of my country—even the name of my business in part refers to the miracle that is the United States. She is not perfect and has made some truly grave mistakes, but no other country is completely innocent, either. Perfection is a dumb reason to love something, if for no other reason than perfection is impossible—and if one is perfect, there is no growth. Demanding flawlessness not just naive, but foolish.

I came to cognizance during a decade when being patriotic and loving the red, white, and blue was at last back in vogue—not that fashion mattered to me. Devouring books about the discovery, settling, and founding of America and the ideas behind that founding almost nonstop (as I still do, much to my mother’s dismay), I came to hold my nation, her people, her countless heroes, and her welfare very dear to my heart. I’ve never lost my love for America and doubtless never will. My eyes will roll and my eyes may grow angry when she commits some foolishness, but  what we love, we seek to encourage.

Chrome Curves
Upon learning I’m a photographer, people of course ask what it is I photograph. For a little while, the first thing that came to my lips was, of course, classic cars—which to me embody freedom, the opportunity to better oneself, and American ingenuity (thus I throw them before or behind a flag every time I have the opportunity). But pondering this one day, I realized that what I’m really photographing and sharing with you, day in and day out, is America. Her beauty, the work of her people’s hands, her great cities and small towns, the homes of great men and the unknowns, the tools and vignettes of our everyday life.

America is a broad subject for a photographer, no matter what anyone tells you (hey: two years and counting on Route 66 and I’ve STILL not reached California!). Many of my fellows travel the world, and this is grand indeed, particularly since my iffy heart  keeps me off airplanes. My feet are, save the occasional cruise, destined to remain on America’s soil. I don’t think this is an accident of nature, or a punishment, or in any way unfortunate, much as I love to travel and see new places and countries.

While some sneeringly tell me that someone who loves her subject so dearly cannot possibly portray it with any accuracy, I disagree—for it is they who love most who see not only the greatness, but the flaws…and continue to love anyway.

Happy birthday America. Long may Old Glory wave, over the land of the free and the home of the brave!

Spread Eagle Tavern in Hanoverton, Ohio, with bunting. Photo copyright Jen Baker/Liberty Images; all rights reserved


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